Football is a part of our lives; we can not deny we are missing a lot the tournaments and players we are used to follow and wait so long to kick-off. Sport has the power to unite people: this is a good opportunity to use this power in favour of all of us amid many difficulties everyone is having during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Oceania Football Center is certainly missing the national leagues there were running in the region, as PNG National Soccer League, Vodafone Premier League in Fiji – the New Zealand top-tier ISPS Handa Premiership was forced to end as they were approaching the final moments of the national league -, Ligue 1 Vini in Tahiti and the New Caledonian top-league Mobil Super Ligue. In Vanuatu, the most important regional league – Port Vila Premier League – was set to resume, but it needed to be suspended due the threat imposed by Coronavirus.
All activities of OFC were postponed until May, when the football governing body is expected to reschedule the tournaments and organised events by the entity.
Oceania is certainly not the only place in the world affected by the outbreak: one of the last leagues in action, the Hyundai A-League in Australia, recently postponed its final games. In Europe, only the Belarusian national league is still running – all the known La Liga, Premier League and UEFA Champions League matches are postponed.
Italy, the country with most deaths by COVID-19 infection at the moment (10.000), has a special case to mention on the importance of the football and all sports break: the UEFA Champions League’s clash between Atalanta and Valencia in Bergamo, Italy may have been the reason why the virus spread so rapidly in the country.
Football attracts thousands of people – the perfect condition for the very fast-spreading COVID-19 virus to infect a lot of fans. Not only the spectators would be in danger: the players, staff and all people involved during a football match could be put in risk. The biggest issue in this story is that none health system worldwide is prepared to treat so many people at the same time – it means the health systems will collapse rapidly and none other person will receive proper treatment because there will no more places for that. Here we see the importance of the self-isolation and social distancing in this moment, to give time to the governments to expand the most they can their capabilities.
COVID-19 already is responsible for more than 30.000 deaths worldwide, we will need to work as team to stop this new disease, set our strategies and tackle it hard to now allow it to attack our defensive box. After this all, the world will come out stronger from this and our beloved sport will be played with more passion than ever.
Stay tuned. Stay safe. Stay at home!